50 things to do in Tokyo, driver's edition

Planning a Tokyo drive? Don't waste time looking for parking: check out these fine spots, all accessible on four wheels

Cruise through Tokyo with our driver's guide to the city

Narrow streets, suffocating traffic, expensive parking, crazy taxisdriving in Tokyo can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don't know where you're going. Helping you avoid road rage and lousy drive-through eateries, our new motorist's guide to the city lets you in on 50 visit-worthy destinations, all best accessed on four wheels. 

You’ll find restaurants, shops, sights and entertainment from the southern suburbs all the way to central Tokyo, and you won’t need to circle the streets in search of a parking spot: all featured venues have their own lots. Planning a weekend spin has never been easier – just remember to drive safe and stay away from adult beverages.

1

Splurge on kaiseki...

If you don't mind a ¥6,000-plus bill for lunch, the Conrad's restaurant will wow you with its beautifully presented kaiseki. Dine on traditional Japanese dishes with a contemporary twist, and take in the spectacular view of the Hamarikyu Gardens and Tokyo Bay. Kazahana

Shiodome
2

Spice things up with Chinese specialties...

In the quiet neighbourhood of Shirokanedai, inside the Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo, you'll find this tranquil restaurant overlooking a lush Japanese garden and serving rich Sichuan cuisine. The speciality, mapo dofu, is a spicy dish consisting of braised tofu with minced meat, chilli beans and Chinese peppers. Shisen

Shirokanedai
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3

Do the BBQ samba...

Tokyo's love of Brazilian barbecue seems to know no bounds and here you'll find 15 kinds of churrasco complemented by 40-odd dishes featuring Brazilian veggies. The lunch buffet includes drinks and dessert. Barbacoa Roppongi Hills

Roppongi
4

Design a better interior...

If you're ready to graduate to a more sophisticated decor style, make beeline for The Conran Shop and its stylish furnishings and interior accessories. They stock both original and curated items from around the world. The Conran Shop

Shinjuku
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5

Have a French breakfast...

Can't live without carbs? Head to the boulangerie at this authentic French café and pick from a variety of breads including pain au chocolat and quiche Lorraine. An 8am start (10am on weekends) makes the bakery a good breakfast stop. Note that the café opens at 10am. Aux Bacchanales Akasaka

Roppongi
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7

Dine at the spot that inspired 'Kill Bill'...

Dominating the Nishi-Azabu crossing like a feudal Japanese castle, Gonpachi was supposedly an inspiration for the film Kill Bill. Sit at rustic wooden tables or in private booths and sup on simple country-style cooking, such as yakitori, grilled pork or soba noodles. Gonpachi

Nishi-Azabu
8

Fill up on American portions...

Proudly American, Bubby's serves up generously sized burgers with juicy 200g patties and fries. Tuck into a Blueberry Shortcake Pancake afterwards if you have space. Bubby's Yaechika

Kyobashi
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9

Allow yourself a little luxury...

The flagship restaurant of the Andaz Tokyo hotel is dressed to impress: expect tinkling live piano music, aerial views across Tokyo, and an international menu of luxury ingredients with prices to match. Andaz Tavern

Toranomon
10

Name-drop the chef...

Australian chef Bill Granger now boasts three restaurants in Tokyo, with this one being the biggest. Enjoy scrambled organic eggs on toast or ricotta pancakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter while taking in views of Tokyo Bay. Bills Odaiba

Odaiba
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12

Opt for organic...

Originally from Belgium, this bakery and restaurant is loved for its organic eats. Take up a place at the long centre table and tuck into the Baker's Basket, a selection of breads served with homemade jam, or one of their delicious tartine sandwiches. Le Pain Quotidien Shiba Park

Shiba-Koen
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13

Snap up a terrace seat...

Few dining destinations in Omotesando can rival the wow factor of the Gyre building's 4th-floor terrace, a 30-seat expanse that hovers at roughly the same height as the trees lining the avenue. Tuscan-born chef Fabrizio Orru takes charge of the menu. Bianca

Omotesando
14

See what sets Japanese beef apart...

Besides boasting a spectacular view from the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, this restaurant offers sterling Japanese beef from Kobe, Yonezawa, Sendai and more. For weekday lunches, you can enjoy an appetiser buffet, main beef dish and dessert buffet (¥5,400 excl. service fee). New York Grill

Shinjuku
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15

Round off with a hot dessert...

When this long-standing spot transformed from a restaurant into a café with confectionery, its popularity soared. Go for a cake set or their hot desserts (try the Hot Soufle, Hot Fruits Custard and Fondant Chocolat), which can only be found in Aoyama. Their moist and fluffy pancakes are also only available here and at their Yokohama locations. Ginza West Aoyama Garden

Nogizaka
16

Dance the weekend away...

Recommended

One of the biggest clubs in Japan, Ageha is a little out of the way, but there's a free shuttle from Shibuya every half hour and three heaving dancefloors to greet you. AgeHa

Shin-Kiba
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17

Try tonkatsu...

Get acquainted with one of the standard dishes in Japan: tonkatsu (deep-fried crumbed pork cutlets). Fumizen, found inside Hotel New Otani, serves the finest quality at reasonable prices, with the Pork Loin Set or Pork Fillet Set being the tastiest options. Seasonal washoku is also available. Fumizen

Kioicho
18

Spend ages with books...

Recommended

In a perfect world, all bookshops would be like this. Daikanyama Tsutaya Books is spread across three interlinked buildings and has a range of English-language titles and mags. At the Anjin lounge upstairs, enjoy vintage periodicals and cocktails in a sophisticated setting. Daikanyama Tsutaya Books

Daikanyama
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19

Jazz the night away...

This smart club, housed inside the sprawling Cerulean Tower Tokyu hotel, is expensive but worth it. The booking policy is consistently good, with occasional overseas players performing, and you can move and chat while the music plays. Plus point: the bar is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. JZ Brat

Shibuya
20

Work your way through a Thai buffet...

Choose from more than 20 kinds of Thai dishes including curries, noodles and desserts at the ¥1,850 weekend buffet. A Thai chef ensures the food stays authentic. Jim Thompson's Table Thailand

Higashi-Ginza
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21

Tuck into legendary Indian cuisine...

New York's famed Indian restaurant comes to life in Roppongi under the direction of Warren Wadud, son of the original owner. Besides the fine tandoori cuisine, be sure to try the pan-roasted lobster. Nirvana New York

Roppongi
22

Go for brunch, NYC style...

New York breakfast queen Sarabeth's is going strong in Tokyo. Its Classic Eggs Benedict always makes for an ideal brunch, and from 6pm this branch in Shinagawa transforms into a stylish bistro-style eatery. Sarabeth's Shinagawa

Shinagawa
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23

Step into the Lexus world...

Showing off the Lexus 'lifestyle' rather than just cars, this unique space features vehicles, clothes, furniture, crafts, coffee and food – all of which exude the quality you'd expect from the luxury brand. Intersect by Lexus

Aoyama
24

Taste shark's fin...

If you don't fancy snacking on Jaws, stick to one of the simpler dishes on the healthy Cantonese menu, which makes use of seasonal Japanese ingredients. Akasaka Rikyu

Akasaka
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25

Find your home comforts...

A bastion of imported groceries, this supermarket is popular with Tokyo's international community who are homesick for familiar flavours, from Jerk seasoning to Jungle Crunch. National Azabu

Hiroo
26

Kit yourself out in couture...

Aside from housing the first MoMA Design Store to open outside of NYC, the Gyre shopping centre boasts branches of Chanel, Maison Margiela and Trading Museum Comme des Garçons. Note: the parking lot gives priority to those who have reserved bays in advance. Gyre

Omotesando
27

Share the kimchi...

All your Korean food fantasies come true at Kantera, a yakiniku restaurant serving wagyu beef, homemade kimchi, savoury chijimi (pancakes) and spicy soups. Take a load of friends with you and share a smorgasbord of Korean dishes. Kantera

Setagaya
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28

Bring your pup for a terrace lunch...

Known for its designer rooms, the Claska hotel presents this cool and classic lounge-style café, open from 7.30am to midnight. The menu is filled with Italian and French cuisine, made with Japanese seasonal ingredients. Dog owners will be happy to know their pooches are welcome on the terrace as well as inside. Claska Dining & Cafe Kiokuh

Gakugei-Daigaku
29

Let's get arty...

Specialising in art supplies, this store stocks paints, brushes, frames and more. The brand has 12 outlets but the Shinjuku flagship boasts the best selection – all reasonably priced too. Sekaido

Shinjuku-Sanchome
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30

Choose your crab flavour...

Set inside a pretty white-washed building, this Singaporean seafood restaurant is revered for its mud crab dishes, particularly the Chilli Crab and Black Pepper Crab. Singapore Seafood Republic

Takanawa
31

Shop within an art space...

A ramp spirals around the circular open space at one end of this Fumihiko Maki-designed building, hence its name. A wide range of fashion, art and design shows appears here. There’s also a café, bar, interior goods store and record/CD shop. Spiral

Aoyama
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32

Read in another language...

The best-known branch of this chain is on Shinjuku-dori, but the branch behind the nearby Takashimaya is bigger. Here you'll find perhaps Tokyo's largest selection of new books in French, German and English, as well as an extensive range of Euro-American comics – and free wi-fi. Books Kinokuniya Tokyo

Shinjuku
33

Satisfy a burger craving...

Try the signature Golden Brown Burger, a 100% beef patty with fresh mushrooms, sauteed onions, bacon and smoked cheese, served on a soft, light bun. Golden Brown

Omotesando
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34

Decorate with modern masters' designs...

Selling pieces from luxury Italian brand Cassina and multi-brand ixc, this store attracts design buffs who relish the chance to pick up works by the likes of Le Corbusier and Vico Magistretti. Cassina ixc

Gaienmae
35

Add international flair to your meal...

Take up a seat on the scenic 5th-floor terrace and tuck into perfectly grilled seafood or beef with seasonal, local vegetables and one of 1,800 carefully selected bottles of wine from around the world. Two Rooms Grill & Bar

Omotesando
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36

Go crazy for gadgets...

Centring on the multimedia tower, which seems to stock just about every computer-related contraption in existence, the Yodobashi camera and electronics empire's home base spreads out over a total of 11 buildings. Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku West

Shinjuku
37

Feast on Edo-Tokyo cuisine...

Known for incorporating traditional Japanese cuisine and ingredients into his recipes, and for focusing on dietary education for children, chef Kiyomi Mikuni has put together a menu emphasising Edo-Tokyo veggies for the French-inspired Mikuni Marunouchi. Mikuni Marunouchi

Marunouchi
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39

Sip ale after browsing books...

After a visit to popular Daikanyama Tsutaya Books, hop next door to this buzzing café for handcrafted ales and delicious pizza enjoyed on the sunny terrace. Ivy Place

Daikanyama
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40

Wine and dine at a discount...

Competition among restaurants at new landmark skyscraper Toranomon Hills is slowly heating up, and this recently opened bistro, café and grocery shop is turning into one of the major contenders. For Sunday dinners the bistro offers half off all wines priced ¥8,000 or more. Pirouette

Toranomon
41

Slurp the finest soba...

Serving soba since 1924, Honmura-an uses the finest locally produced buckwheat, ground fresh every day, for its noodles. A glass screen lets you glimpse the making of the soba, and the Japanese garden designed by bonsai artists is ultra pretty. Honmura-an

Ogikubo
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42

Make dinner an 'eco-luxe' occasion...

Known for the buzz phrase 'eco-luxe', which refers to the local, organic ingredients used in his refined cuisine, Keisuke Matsushima first built a name for himself in Nice, France before opening this Tokyo branch. Ideal for a memorable, romantic dinner. Keisuke Matsushima

Harajuku
43

Gaze out over Tokyo, for free...

When you're looking to get up high but don't feel like paying for the privilege, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building's two free 45th-floor observatories, which provide beautiful sunset views and the chance to spot Mt Fuji. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories

Shinjuku
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44

Admire thousands of artworks...

Recommended

Its massive collection of international and Japanese artworks has its moments, but the temporary exhibitions at this 20-year-old contemporary art museum are the main reason to visit. Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

Kiyosumi
45

Eat like an A-lister...

Ready to tuck into original Californian cuisine created by the official chef for the Academy Awards? Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar's flagship restaurant features the master chef's Italian-inspired dishes, made with natural and organic ingredients from local producers. Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar

Roppongi
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46

Snack under ginkgo trees...

With pretty ginkgo trees creating the setting, this café is the perfect place for a scenic light lunch. Best time to go is in autumn when the leaves begin to turn a vibrant shade of yellow. Royal Garden Cafe Aoyama

Gaienmae
47

Watch movies all night...

Recommended

The nine-screen multiplex in Roppongi Hills has a few nifty features – notably its luxurious 'Premiere' cinema – and also offers all-night screenings on Fridays, Saturdays and days preceding national holidays. Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills

Roppongi
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48

Scoff as many pastries as possible...

This spot is considered one of Tokyo's most well-rounded bakeries, and is particularly renowned for its excellent baguettes. You can bite into sandwiches made with freshly baked bread at the café upstairs, which is also where a Sweet Buffet (¥1,544) takes place from 2.30pm every Monday and Thursday. Esprit de Bigot

Setagaya
49

Relish the finest beef...

You can look forward to USDA Prime and Certified Angus beef at this popular restaurant. Try Popover baked with Gruyere cheese, the delicious Lobster Salad Cobb Style and the Tuna Tartare with Avocado and Soy-Lime Dressing. BLT Steak Roppongi

Roppongi
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